6 ways AI can improve your spend audit process

by AppZen March 25, 2022

Is your finance team busy and overworked, but too hesitant to change their spend audit processes? As time-consuming and frustrating as manual expense reports and invoice audits can be, implementing a whole new software system can seem worse.

Thankfully, AppZen’s AI-powered Spend Audit solution doesn’t require any changes to your back-end software. It integrates with your existing systems, including expense management, invoice automation, and ERP, to make the transition easy. Once you’ve implemented AI, you’ll never want to go back. 

Here are the top six ways AI can help improve your spend audit process — more importantly, how it can save your team’s time, money, and sanity.

1. Audit everything

Many companies only audit between 2 and 10 percent of invoices and expense reports, each month. This is a practice born out of necessity: a manual audit of everything would eat up all of the finance team’s time. But it also leaves a whopping 90 to 98 percent of invoices and expense reports completely unscrutinized. Unless all of those are entirely error- and fraud-free (hard to imagine, unfortunately), your company is pretty much guaranteed to lose money each month.

Finance AI is a game-changer. It allows finance teams to audit 100 percent of your spend without any additional effort. AI checks every invoice and expense report and assigns a risk score based on a number of factors, flagging high-risk expense reports and invoices for manual review. This helps your finance team spend their time much more productively and makes it possible to pay low-risk invoices and reimbursements much faster.

2. Audit as much as possible prior to payment

Auditing after invoices and expense reports are paid out is another practice that many companies implement out of necessity — it’s just too hard to get everything done in a timely manner. But it also makes it that much more difficult to claw back money spent on erroneous or fraudulent invoices or expense reports. It also means lost opportunities for early invoice payment discounts. Implementing an AI means your business doesn’t have to compromise between paying employees and vendors back efficiently and being rigorous about scouting out fraud and mistakes. 

3. Detect anomalies 

Discovering fraud and suspicious activity manually is difficult, as fraudsters are always inventing new ways to game your policies. Finance AI references an unlimited number of data points from any document, set of internal systems, and online data sources and combines this data with information extracted from your documents. Using powerful computer vision and NLP technology trained on millions of documents, Spend Audit uses AI models to detect duplicates and high-risk transactions, such as sudden spend spikes or invoice splitting to stay under the radar. This brings far greater precision to the spend audit process, allowing you to root out fraud, duplicate spend, regulatory violations, and excessive employee expenses. 

4. Monitor fraud

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, occupational fraud resulted in more than $3.6 billion in total losses in 2020. AppZen’s AI-powered platform audits 100% of spend, spotting unusual patterns that might indicate fraud, such as inconsistent addresses or suspicious business names on an invoice or charges on an expense report that don’t match a receipt. Anything questionable is brought to the attention of your team for manual review.

5. Don’t double-pay

Duplicate invoices or expenses can be difficult for human auditors to catch since they’re often submitted by different employees or months apart. Finance AI scours every line in an invoice or expense report and compares it against the database of every other invoice or expense report ever processed. If an invoice or expense report seems like it might be a duplicate, your team is notified before it’s paid out.

6. Stay on top of compliance

Staying on top of anti-bribery provisions or corruption policies such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the U.K. Bribery Act, and the Sunshine Act can seem overwhelming. Constantly changing international sanctions can also pose a challenge. Violating these laws comes with significant potential consequences for your business, including hefty fines and damage to your company's reputation, which can be hard to reverse. AppZen’s AI-powered Spend Audit platform can help your team stay out of hot water by flagging transactions with foreign officials, healthcare professionals, and other sanctioned and politically-exposed people or entities so you can make sure you stay compliant, avoid fees and other punishments, and protect your company’s reputation.

To find out more about how finance AI can improve your spend audit process, check out the Spend Audit Data Sheet.

AppZen